Monday, February 23, 2009

A Government Contract!

Today I travelled on the first train out of Epping on the new railway line to Chatswood.

Despite the political arguments that the line is coming into operation some three years late, it appears that the original idea for a junction line from Epping connecting the northern railway line with the North Shore line goes back some 80 years to John Bradfield of Harbour Bridge fame.

According to an article in the Northern District Times, 18 February 2009, Pastor Larry Galbraith of the Epping Church of Christ holds archival documents that point to a plan for a Epping-Chatswood railway . According to a commerative booklet dated Easter Saturday 1928, to mark the laying of the foundation stone of the Epping Church of Christ in Bridge Street, the "value of siting a new church at Epping, given the electrification of the Northern Line and the authorisation of the junction line connecting the northern suburbs at Epping with the North Shore line" was duly noted.

The $2.29 billion railway line is the biggest infrastructure project in NSW. As an engineering feat it is a testament to all those who worked on it.

Do you have an ancestor who worked on building the foundation of New South Wales?

History Services NSW has a database of Government Contracts and Contractors covering some 49,164 entries on successful applicants for contracts awarded by the New South Wales Government over the period from 1832 to 1900.

For more information go to:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Was your ancestor a Postie? - 200 years of Australia Post

This year 2009, marks 200 years of the postal service in Australia.

The postal service officially began on 25 April 1809 when a former convict, Issac Nichols was appointed the first Postmaster of New South Wales.

His task was to co-ordinate all mail coming into the colony. He set up Australi's first post office at his home in George Street, Sydney and advertised the names of all mail recipients in the Sydney Gazette. Settlers could collect their letters from Nichols' home for a fixed price of one shilling per letter, with parcels costing more depending on weight.

Upon Nichols' death on 8 November 1819, George Panton was appointed second Postmaster of New South Wales. He also held the office of Wharffinger, transacting both his duties from a small building on Kings Wharf until March 1828 when accommodation was provided for postal work in a small office in Bent Street.

In 1825, the NSW Legislative Council passed the first postal Act giving the government control of the colony's postal services. The Post Offce in New South Wales was officially established as government department in March 1828. On 8 March, George Panton was appointed Principal Postmaster.

He appointed appointed his private servant as the colony's first postman in 1828. From that time, letter carriers as they were known distributed mail in Sydney.

Mail routes out of Sydney were established and more postmasters were appointed. By 1828, regular daily horseback deliveries had begun operating from Sydney to Parramatta and Liverpool; a twice weekly service ran to Windsor and Campbelltown and a weekly service from carried mail to Penrith and Bathurst. There was also a twice weekly mail service by ship between Sydney and Newcastle.

As the colony grew, post offices sprang up and the postal service became a vital cog in the wheel of opening up overland routes for the mail and providing a means for people to communicate and receive supplies.

Because of the distances involved in the distribiton of mail, the Government of New South Wales required the services of thousands of contractors to deliver mail services. Often it was the mail contractor who forged the route through an inhospitable countryside.

History Services NSW has compiled a database of over 12,000 contracts awarded by the Government of New South Wales to persons to provide specific mail services for the period 1835 to 1901. For more information go to:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Finding Richard Johnson

On Australia Day, 26 January 2009, Mary and I visited Richard Johnson Square on the corner Hunter and Castlereagh streets in the centre of Sydney.

We got a great photo of the monument erected in Richard Johnson's honour against the backdrop of a vintage bus from the Sydney Bus Museum. Buses from the Museum's fleet were running services through the city for the Australia Day celebrations.

Reverend Richard Johnson was appointed to accompany the First Fleet to New South Wales to become the first clergyman in Australia. His story illustrates the significant difficulties he experienced in establishing religious services and building a church in the infant Colony.

For full details of his story go to:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

NSW Convict Ancestors

History Services NSW is a one-stop research boutique that can provide you with the most comprehensive information on your NSW convict ancestor.

Visit us at

We will be able to help you if you are just getting started with your family history or are updating your research.

Since the launch of the our website we have provided many researchers with information on a convict ancestor.

Enquiries and comments are most welcome.